Aug 31, 2012

exotic pets, garlic eggplant, and childs mortality rates: just another day.

This morning I busted bum in the gym and then headed home to shower, do work emails, and eventually meet up with a friend who is moving into the dorm! Across the hall from me! 

Happy happy joy joy! 

After our coffee/chat session, I headed to Chinese class where my tutor taught me useful phrases like, "Good horses don't eat grass behind them." (hao ma bu chi hui tou cao). Meaning - what's gone is gone, no looking back. 

And - "Radish, cabbage, everyone likes something different." (luo bo bai cai ge you suo ai). Meaning - Everyone has different tastes and likes. 

This is what I pay the big bucks for. :) I need to have her drill me on hard stuff but instead I beg her to teach me phrases and idioms. :) 

At one point in our lesson, a delivery man dropped off the door to the bathroom in her studio. Her sweet studio is newly renovated and looks great inside. When I realized what the door was for, I announced in Chin.ese, "Yay, now I can poop alone!" He stopped in his tracks and looked me in the eyes. "Who taught you that and what country are you from? Russia?" He said in shock that I knew the word for "poop". Hahahahaha. 

"I'm from America." I replied to the old man while my tutor giggled. 
"There are not many Americans who live in C.hina," he said and then walked out the way he came in, this time without a door slung over his bony shoulders. 

After class was over, I went next door to the coffee shop to edit some english papers for the head bosses of the children's hospital. The one I am working on now is on infant mortality and child health care progression in Zhejiang Province (my "state") in the last 11 years. All I can tell you from reading these papers is - I am so thankful to have been born where I was and I refuse to have a child in Scary stuff. 

The coffee shop was peaceful and nice, though, and I enjoy learning from these papers, even if the topics aren't too comfortable. It's hard, though, to shake my re-occuring feelings of, "The world is so messy, how is it possible that I can sit here so nicely drinking my coffee while wars and poverty and horrendous things happen elsewhere?"and "How did I get this lucky/blessed to be me and here and doing this?" The unfairness of lots in life can feel crushing. Even from the lucky side. 

#whoa, deep.  

mmmmm coffee.

After a few hours of editing I walked to the greatest restaurant of all time to have dinner with some friends to celebrate our Kazakstani classmate Laura's return to Ch.ina to visit.

Garlic eggplant was the star of the show. I hope there is garlic eggplant in heaven.


Group shot of the classmate beauties...

Russians don't smile. :)

After dinner we decided to keep the party going and hit up the night market. At this point I was exhausted, but didn't want to miss a chance to hang out with my friend from far away...

I'm glad I tagged along because otherwise I never would have known that you can buy a mini jellyfish in a light-up cup as a pet for $2!


Apparently these little guys can live for 2 years and eat what is in tap water. All you have to do is change their water every week. We couldn't figure out HOW to change the water without losing the tiny dudes, so no one bit the bullet and forked over 15 rmb for the exotic pet in a light up cup.

I would have contemplated a $2 pet jellyfish if I didn't think that Mushu would tip that cup over in a heartbeat. :)

what do you name a pet jellyfish?

After shopping, we got some unphotographed lemon/coconut slushies from a street vendor and made our way home.

Long day. Good day.

I can still taste the garlic eggplant.

Time to brush my fangs.

Good night from my corner of the world.

walk slow. xoxo. 

Aug 30, 2012


The lazy summer days of yesterweek are now a glorious memory. 

Today I went to the gym for my training run, met an old classmate from my masters program for lunch and chats about school, did work emails, went to the hospital to teach class, and met new friends for evening KTV. A busy, productive, full, day. 

In the normal busyness of the day, there were two stand-out events. 

When visiting my friend's new dorm room at the campus I study at, there was this sticker on the wall of one of my fave verses. Unfortunately, the ending was scratched out. I couldn't make out what was written over it...


Then, when I arrived at the hospital, I was writing on the white board when May, one of the head Leukemia researchers, arrived and presented me this red package....

A gift for Mushu! She told me it was so interesting to her that I had a birthday party for my cat that she wanted to be in on the fun. She said she feels badly for her cat she had many years ago because she did not treat it the way I treat my cat (like a child, haha).

One step for all catkind! (my mom came up with that, she's so witty. :) )

Mu is so happy to have a new toy!

man of the house. 

I am so touched by my student's kindness. I love my cat so much and the fact that she wanted to join in the celebration means so much to me. She saw my cultural weirdness/difference and decided to participate and bless me in the process.

It's often the small things that stand-out.

walk slow. xoxo. 

Aug 29, 2012


Things I love today...

Texts from mom and the greatness of quick communication that our family iphones have given us in the past year....

Kitty's sassy face.....

My new butt cushion. Working all day on my online class has lead my body to ache because of this darn chair, but thanks to my $9 cushion, my work sessions are now a little more comfortable....

(can someone please send a reputable chiropractor to Ch.ina! I'm hurtin!)

Having tomorrow's lesson plans done a day early meant an evening of frozen grapes and reality tv...

(also loving my new whiteboard)...

And my fave birthday present from myself to myself - compression socks. Easing the discomfort of today's 5 mile treadmill jaunt....

What do you love today?

walk slow. xoxo.

Aug 28, 2012

midnight snack with a side of contentment.

Dear little baozi woman, 

Thank you for handmaking those scrumptious baozi's stuffed with garlic and green veggies. Your delicacies were the perfect ending to my belated birthday foot massage present from a friend. 

The yum-maker. 

You've been added to the list of the 9028479378 reasons why this season of life rocks. And made my Monday that much more wonderful.

Stay delicious.



walk slow. xoxo. 

Aug 26, 2012

airport pick-up.

Some new friends arrived to Shanghai Int. Airport this afternoon and I joined my Hangzhou friends in the airport pick-up/welcome brigade. The more the merrier. 

Six hours round-trip bus ride later, 4 new faces were sleepy, starry-eyed, and overwhelmed by the, "smells, lights, and noises," of our Chi.nese city. 


"you are soooo fashion." 

passing out waters and personal TP packets - Ch.ina essentials.

Americans = lots of luggage.

when you're here, you're family.

It is energizing to be around people who arrive here for the first time. Everything is strange, overwhelming, wonderful. It is a reminder that our lives here are special, unique, to be appreciated and thankful for. It's a reminder that we are on a great adventure and no year is the same. Nothing happens the same way twice.

It's starting. New people are here. The next round is my students.
Bring on 2012-2013.

walk slow. xoxo. 

Aug 25, 2012

HSK 6 Prep.

This is what my past few days have looked like...

Coffee and Chi.nese character study sheets. 
It's been so long since I seriously studied characters. I had forgotten how time consuming it can be. Writing them over and over and over. Hoping not to forget - sounds, meanings, stories, origin. Every little stroke counts. 

Thank goodness for the plethora of coffee shops that opened this summer and spare afternoons to spend in them.


walk slow. xoxo. 

Aug 23, 2012

bus stories and a birthday.

A few times in my life have I been at a loss for words. I usually always have something to say, an opinion, a story to tell. 

But this past week, I found myself at a loss of words for my little bloggy! I knew I needed to document (how else will the grandkids know how I celebrated turning 26?! ha) but each time I thought about opening the computer to write I would think, "what should I say?" 


Anyways...I don't want the blog hiatus to grow into a habit, so here I am. Tongue-tied and all hoping to update my corner of e-world on the past week and keep the Chin.a stories comin' at a decent pace. 

On Sunday I turned 26. Half-way to 52. Double 13. Closer to 30 than 20. 

Twenty-si.x feels great. Honestly, I have been telling people I am 26 for a long time because according to the Chin.ese lunar calendar I turned 27 in January. When a Chin.ese person asks my age, I uaually tell them what year I was born, this keeps things from being complicated. 

I wanted to write something thoughtful, reminiscient, poetic about my 25th year, but when I sat, everything felt cheesy and forced. My birthday reflections this year consisted of me going through my "past 12 months" tab on my computer and laughing outloud at my year in pics. It was a great one. 

Some things that made 25 memorable: 

-Buying a cat.
-Backpacking northern India for 3 weeks with 2 dudes. 
-Completing the Great Wall of China half-marathon.
-Finishing my first year of PhD course work - including changing majors from Comparative Education to Chinese Philosophy. 
-Dating someone special who is no longer on this continent but remains a friend.
-Working as an adjunct professor for the first year! (including spending 18 hours in a Chin.ese mental hospital with a student who had a break down). Signed a contract for a second year. 
-Continued orphan work, including a tv appearance by my best friend to ask the public for donations (a new thing in Also, the death of a mentor in orphan work that inspired me on the greater purposes for being here. 
-My mom came to Chin.a for 2 weeks (by herself!) and we climbed Yellow Mountain. 

25 was great. I am expecting equally challenging, awesome, and developmental experiences as a 26 year old. 

Some goals for the year include: 

-my first full marathon (Disney marathon in January) 
-traveling during Oct. holiday and January (got my eyes on Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Dubai, or Africa...) 
-complete PhD coursework and delve deeper into the dissertation. 
-be more organized with my job. 
-continue on my weight loss/health journey. 
-and other more personal goals....

I didn't want to have a birthday party, but my friends stepped up and treated me special. I am thankful for them. Saturday night was hilarious, a cocktail hour followed by hitchhiking in the rain with two Chin.ese men in a landrover when there were no taxi's to be found. (kids, don't try this at home). We pulled up to several friends waiting to say happy birthday and the night continued with dancing and margaritas. 

Sunday, my friend Natasha took me to get a facial and my friend Michael took a bunch of us to a Korean place for dinner. It was a low-key birthday in which I felt loved and pampered. I'm thankful to have good friends in a faraway place. 

More recently, I have been fielding a million emails from my American students who are arriving very soon. My online class is up and running and I feel a sense of professional accomplishment because this year I'm not being as "hand-held" as last year and I like it. 

Yesterday while riding the bus home from class at the hospital, I ran into one of my students from HDU many moons ago (two years). I am so thankful I remembered her name and we had a nice chat in Chin.ese. It was such a heart-warmer to see her and hear about her life. My little baby ducks are all grown up. (my age, haha). 

Today I rode the bus to meet a Chin.ese classmate for lunch. He will soon be going to the Univ. of Miami to aid in a research project about philosophy. He wanted to know about Florida and I wanted to know about some papers that I have due very soon. After riding the bus a few stops an elderly man got on the bus carrying a small, red bucket. He sat beside me. I looked down into the bucket after smelling an awful smell and saw 3 dead fish. Just chillin'. The best part of the story is that the man was staring at ME. Like I was the weird one. Yes, I guess a redhead in Ch.ina is weirder than a man with a bucket of dead fish on public transportation. Makes sense in C.hina. Ha. 

It's been raining every day and my body is very achy after lifting weights too much on Monday and Tuesday. I took today off of running and will hopefully be back at it tomorrow. I'll take the week off of posting marathon crap and get back atchya next week. 

Things are about to get nuts. One of my best friends just arrived from America! (weee!!!) and everyone else is due back soon. New people are arriving next week. The dorm will soon be full, there will be new friends and students to orientate. 

So I guess I should enjoy this quiet evening with my cat, huh? Ya, that sounds about right. :) 


walk slow. xoxo. 

Aug 16, 2012

Payday. Hallelujah.

It's Wednesday. 

That means a 4:30 bus ride to the hospital, a 15 flight elevator ride surrounded by parents holding their only child who somehow found it's way to the children's hospital, and a 1.5 hour english class with the doctors. The same as it has been every Wednesday for the past 2 years.

Only this time I was in the elevator by myself. No pushing people, no screaming kids, no staring grandparents...just me. All alone. It was a strange feeling. Until the elevator opened at floor 8. 

A family of 3 (as most Chi.nese families are) stood staring at me as the doors slid slowly open. Their eyes widened at the sight of a redheaded monster. "What do we do?" the dad said. And the doors slid slowly closed and they remained on the other side. 

I kind of chuckled to myself until the doors slid open at floor 12 and the same thing happened. The people refused to get onto the elevator - stunned immobile by the lowly foreigner in the other side of the doors. 

It was amusing to say the least. 

I reached the 15th floor all alone and pulled out my keys to the office space where I am not the scary foreigner, I am Jessica, teacher and friend. I like that place. 

Work was normal. I gave them personality tests and they thought it was so fun. Thinking of your individual personality is not typical Chin.ese behavior, they have never heard of Myers Briggs, etc. So my printed off test was both thought-provoking and entertaining. 

"Am I the 'life of the party'?" 50 year old head-pharmacist Ruby asked me as she answered question #1. "Yes, yes you are," I replied. 

After class Michael and I had our usual pow-wow. I gave him his wedding present (from last October) that my mom finally sent from America. The concept of a platter was unknown and so was the word "platter" that took a 4 minute "pwadder" - NO - "PL-A-TT-ER" pronounciation lesson. ha. 

He also had some concerns about the hospital's recent American guests. I'm being called upon to translate some cultural differences that are occuring. The way Chi.nese and Americans see personal interactions is vastly different - like two different species. I tried my best to be diplomatic, reasonable, and fair in my choice of words while deciphering the situation. Trying to explain that yes, calling people at 4pm and demanding they be at a formal dinner at 5pm would be off-putting to an American. Culture. What a funny, restricting thing. I'm thankful to have a bird's eye view of these situations and to be somewhat "culture-less." I really hope this translates to a job for me one day - one where I can use these skills of mediating between our two worlds. 

Somehow I only got this blurry, candid gem on my phone. He must have the posed pic on his phone. I think I look exactly like my little sister in the face in this pic and that it's a good representation of me and Michael's friendship. ha. Just chillin', not a care in the world. 


Then at the end of class my teeny-tiny boss showed up bouncing around and wearing sequins like she always is. She handed me a brown envelope and pranced out of the room apologizing that she didn't come to class because she has to, "take care of her father in law who is 80 years old." 

I wanted to tell her that she has not come to class in 2 years, so why would I expect her today? But instead I took the money with a "thank you" and nodded my head in understanding that, yes, her father in law needs her. 

I'm not on a contract with the hospital because technically it is illegal not good for me to work on a student visa. It works for them and me. I just get a brown envelope of cash every 4 or so weeks, whenever my boss remembers to show up and pay me.

There have been times when my boss forgot to pay me and I thought I would have to choose between cat food and people food. Luckily, I'm not in that situation anymore, but the brown envelope of red bills is still highly anticipated each month.

pay day! 

Now, the money goes mostly towards Chin.ese lessons. C'est la vie.

I find it amusing that my boss always writes, "thank you!" on the envelope of money. I am being thanked for going to a job I love.

I wish everyone could be so lucky.

walk slow. xoxo. 

Aug 14, 2012

no dirty words: and other interactions this week.

Things are weird. As usual. Have some snippets of the week: 

~A few days ago I was in the dairy aisle of the corner store when two young children (5-6 years) who were running around the store stopped abruptly when they encountered me. 

From 2 feet away the little girl voice shrieked, "So fat! Wow, so fat!" The smaller boy replied, "Fat!" 

No one around me in the crowded aisle paid any attention to what was going on, as I looked around in vain for back-up. I just stared at the children with my mouth open. You can't cuss out a child, Jessica. Mouth shut. Mouth shut. 

I was momentarily proud of my self-control. But then the tears started. Dang it, they got me. I went through the store and paid for my merchandise with tears streaming down my face. 

Luckily, in my nightly mom chat, the every-flowing mom wisdom saved the day. "The devil knows our weaknesses," she said in her mom voice, "You're in such a good place, don't let two kindergarteners ruin it for you." 

Wise words. But why can't I just buy yogurt without being verbally assalted by 5 year olds? China, you suck! 

~ There is only one type of person I am afraid of in Ch.ina and it's the "crazed man." For the most part I feel very safe here, I walk the streets alone at night and I go places alone often. In 4 years I've only had 2 instances of crud. Once I had my purse stolen in a grocery store and once a random man hit me on the street. Today, I was chased around the bulletin boards at the bus stop tonight by a guy asking for money. I made eye contact with him when I was walking towards the bus stop and saw that he fit the, "crazed man" profile. His eyes lit up when he saw me and I thought, "oh crap." I went to go behind the advertisement and he lept behind it, I quickly swerved around front and he followed. I want to think good of people, but being chased around the bus stop made me nervous. Especially in a society where bystanders don't help. Luckily my bus quickly arrived. I was left to contemplate how I treat strangers, how strangers see me (as a rich foreigner to beg from) and when is the appropriate time to aid and when should safety come first. So many thoughts. 

~Work has gotten intense. I now teach 3 classes/sections of the practicum. (I began a year ago with one class). I've gone from 12 to 30 students in a year. This is in addition to working at the hospital and going to school full time. Yikes! It was a choice between me taking an extra 6 students or the program hiring a new teacher and I figured that it would be easier to do the work myself than to train someone. I see it as a financial blessing and a chance to hone my (severely lacking) organizational skills. I'm also thankful that my boss believes in me, that is a strong motivational factor. I believe in doing hard things, so here's another chance to do something that scares me.

~The love calls from distant lands are continuing. This morning I was woken early by a phone call from Dubai where he is on a business trip visiting some factories. I was then told hilarious story after story of him starving because all the McDonald's are closed during the daylight hours for Ramadan. I told him to go the the grocery store. "They have nothing!" he said. Seems like I need to take a trip to Dubai to fact check the food situation for non-Muslims during Ramadan. Ha. 

Here's some pics: 

Love street propaganda trying to teach manners: 

"No Dirty Words" 
Real estate advertisements here crack me up. If this was America it would say something catchy like, "If you lived here, you would be home." Here it says...

Assembling Worldwide Elites to Win the Future!

Mojitos with my fave Ukranian:

Mushu has been in awe of the water dispenser the last few days. He is trying to figure out how I get water out of it! He is so smart! Sometimes I get a little bowl and pour him some just so he can work his brain muscles and think about how it appeared. I feel like I'm training a toddler. ha. I know every mother thinks their child is smart, but my baby kitty is a kitty genius! You can see his little face thinking so hard about how the water comes out the machine.

These machines are used in homes for drinking water since you cannot drink the tap water in Ch.ina - lest you die of germs and amebas. When I run out of water in the jug (about once a week), I call a company and order another jug. (this conversation used to freak me out when I didn't speak Chin.ese). A guy loads it on an e-bike and carries it up 4 flights of stairs to my dorm room where I give him the empty jug in exchange for a full jug and pay him 2$ for it. Whenever I return to America I am afraid to fill our dinner glasses out of the sink. haha.

smart baby! 
And it's Monday! So the weekly marathon check-in is due....

Last week I got a 50%. I did 2/4 of my training runs and skipped out on body pump because my back has been aching. (Today I was back in action). I did not get the guts to run outside. I am giving myself a deadline of September 1st. After that date, no more skipping runs for lazy reasons (or any reasons). I am proud that I at least got in my Saturday long run (4.5 miles on the treadmill). I am feeling emotionally good (besides the kindergartener set-back). My water intake is up and my calories have been where they should be, with the exception of 2 days of eating pizza last week and a slight mojito binge (see above pics) that left me thinking, "I'm too old for this."

Here is the plan for this week, it's a set back week so the mileage is lower. Fine by me:

Week 7Monday RestTues 2 m runWed 3 m runThur 2 m runFri RestSat 3 m runSun 50 min walk
I plan on making all these runs with the addition of body pump today (Monday) possibly tomorrow, and definitely Friday. Food goals include lay off the pizza. ha. And continue watching carbs and sugar. (and I mean watching as in limiting, not watching enter my mouth, ha.) 

So that's that. Aweek of awkard though expected interactions, work addition, phone calls to faraway places, and kitty cat lovin. 

Now remember, no dirty words. :)

walk slow. xoxo.

Aug 9, 2012

funny chapters.

Every once in awhile I find myself in what I call a, "funny chapter." I'm sure you have them too.

Small periods of life, usually between two larger, more clear-cut chapters. These funny chapters can bring clarity, stress, confusion, great joy, new friends, solitude, peace - depending on the chapter.

I find myself, dear friends, in a hilarious chapter I will one day call, "I'm not your girlfriend, but call me every second."

I was woken again this morning with a lovely call from Ethiopia. (I feel cool just saying that - someone give me a reality check). After IP cards on his side kept running out, I found myself scrambling to add money to my skype account just to hear his voice for 2 more seconds. For the record, skyping calling an Ethiopian cell number is 10x the cost of an American cell number. Yikes. I didn't care. "Just two more seconds," I told myself a dozen times over a two hour period.

Are we getting back together? No. There are three countries and two years that stand in our way. I am too close to my dreams to pack it all up and move to a third continent. He is too deep in his family's business to leave for a crazy redhead in And I'm not waiting.

But this season, this funny chapter, has been a wonderful, unexpected closure period. I have my buddy back. We've talked it all out. I love talking it out. I understand what happened. I see clearly. What a great gift. I am infinitely thankful for these phone calls that have cleared such a path in my soul. Where nervousness, guilt, and fear once were are now happiness, thankfulness, and appreciation. I used to be so afraid I would run into him on the street. Now I await his next call. That is redemption, my friends. On a small level, but redemption nonetheless.

I've learned so much about myself through these phone calls. I've admitted my relationship failures and hopefully can keep from making the same mistakes/assumptions twice. I have also learned that I function much better as a single woman than as half of a unit.

I'm so thankful for this funny chapter. The summer when my mom visited, I tutored a kid everyday, went to a Chin.ese wedding, took afternoon naps after swimming, had a Chin.ese tutor, and received lovey calls from a person dear to me in Africa.

I have a feeling of "coming full circle," of understanding, of freedom, of self-awareness, and of love.

I also know that there is a group of young men in Addis Ababa who say they, "saw a Jessica," when they see a white person.

Ha. Funny chapters, gotta love 'em.

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
― Rumi

walk slow. xoxo.


Aug 8, 2012

"It's my first cat birthday party."

There's a typhoon warning for my province. 

Friends are off work, flights have been canceled, and there hasn't been a drop of rain. 

I think these people have never been to Florida. 


Let's hope tomorrow brings some typhoon fun to warrant all the hype.

Besides the non-existant typhoon, a certain birthday kitty had his first birthday party tonight!

birthday spread. 

Mushu was not very interested in his smiley face cake, but was very interested in the beautiful ladies that attended his party!

Mushu's international aunties...(Spain, USA, Ukraine)...

Furry boy let his playful side out to play with his aunties...

pets are great
 Auntie Yemi made tuna cookies!

And Auntie Natasha brought presents...

 Uncle Mike stopped by later for a left-over slice of cake and a birthday squeeze...

Typhoon what? We're busy celebrating in the dorm.

Happy Birthday, Mushu! You're the best random 30 bucks I ever spent. I can't imagine my Ch.ina life without your kitty breathe in my face every morning. I can't believe I have kept a cat alive and secret in my dorm room for almost a year. Mushu baby, you've made a pet mom out of me. Here's to many more years with my furry monster.

walk slow. xoxo. 

Aug 6, 2012

Errands and Excitement.

It's my last week tutoring the monster precious child.

Today I had off work though, because the mom wanted me to come in right after they got back from weekend vacay at 11am. Um, I am not a parent, but I was a pre-school aid for several years and a camp counselor and I have been to Walmart enough times to know that when children are exhausted, they do not want/cannot sit in a 3 hour foreign language tutoring session. So I told the mom I was "too busy" to come in the afternoon. You're welcome kid, I sacrificed 70 bucks so you could take a nap. 

So instead of my morning session, I slept in, was treated to brunch by some pals who are back in town, went to the pet market to look for toys for Mushu (left empty-handed, he already had everything, haha), grocery shopped, gymed, laundried, took fresh ginger and lemon to a sick friend, and watched tv on my computer. A fabulous Monday. 

One day when I have a job that is more routine and demanding, I will miss the fact that I once called days full of brunch, friends, and errands, "busy." haha. 

Or maybe I should be writing some papers and doing research instead of brunching and erranding. hmmmmmm.... I'll get there eventually. ;) Life's short, I've got a cat birthday party to prepare for - Confucius can wait. 

Yup - tomorrow is my cat's birthday party. Exciting stuff is happening in C.hina, people. This cat is turning ONE!

birthday boy

Brunch was good - there's lots to think about at the start of the new semester and having friends on the same page is uplifting.

I made them show their teeth- ha

Wanna buy a goldfish, gerbal, mouse things, or turtle? The pet market has it all!

here fishy, fishy
 I enjoyed running into the lady who sold me Mushu 10 months ago. She recognized me as I walked by her stall at the market. "You bought "Mi Mi" (the name they called Mushu). Do you remember me? You bought the small, white cat!" she called to me. "Of course I remember you," I said and pulled out my phone to show her pictures. She loved seeing pics of him all grown up. According to her he, "grew-up beautiful." I think so too! I'm thankful to have such a clean, healthy, happy cat come from a random pet market. That's called luck-of-the-draw! The lady was so sweet to care about how Mushu is doing. I told her that I was having a party for his birthday but I think that culturally that was too difficult for her to understand. She just nodded slowly and looked confused. ha.

wandering the pet market.

While grocery shopping, I picked up some party favors for Mushu's shindig and price-checked cakes. I'll pick one up tomorrow so it's fresh. Mu was very interested in the small toy that came with the Hello Kitty favors (cookies in personal boxes). He sat and stared at it for several minutes until I opened the package and gave it to him. He swatted it then ignored it all afternoon. Men.

"Gimme that toy so I can ignore it!"

The veggie market was packed full of beautiful produce today. I think I got ripped off on my broccoli, but I don't care to call them out. The 5cents won't kill me and I'm tired of fighting people who cheat. It gets exhausting. Just keep the broccoli stocked and we're all good.


And I am starting a new tradition on the blog for myself - starting each week with my marathon training schedule. I will end each week with an assessment for how my training and food goals went. Boring for you, helpful for me.

This week's plan: 

Week 6Mo: RestTue:
2 m run
3 m run
2 m run
Fri: RestSat: 4.5 m runSun: 30 min walk
The plan will be done side-by side with my regular body pump classes. I did one today (on a rest day - I don't care) and probably again on Friday. I'm really hoping to get some of those runs (like, half) outside instead of on the dreadmill, but outside is also scary (staring asians, bad pollution, crazy, unpredictable traffic, concrete sidewalks) so we'll see what happens. I've got some fears to overcome. 

Food goals for the week include upping my protein in non-animal ways (helloooo protein powder and dried tofu), lowering overall sugar and carb intake, drinking more water (it's hot out), and not drinking too much wine at Mushu's party. ;) 

Life's crazy here in HZ. Cat's are having parties. I'm training for a marathon. Who knows what's next? 

Now about those school papers.... ;)

walk slow. xoxo. 

Aug 3, 2012

25 weeks.

It's actually here! Marathon training is here!


I decided last week that I need to get my large butt in gear for the Disney marathon in January. Most training cycles are 16 weeks, but I know that I need more prep than the average bear (mentally and physically), so after much time spent with my dear friend Google, I settled on this plan. (I am starting at week 5, fyi). 

Finding a training plan and deciding when to start took a lot more decision making than I thought it would. Things to consider included the program's slowness in adding miles in order to prevent injury. I CANNOT get injured because I live in and am uninsured. No injuries allowed. I like that Hal's plan is realistic.

Also, I want to make sure I train long enough but not so long that I hate my life. I'm not sure I would make it to the end of a 30 week'er. I eventually decided on the longer training schedule (start now rather than do a 20 week program) because I want to start training and have it be a routine before the busyness of the new semester/work/classes starts in a month. I want to give myself time to adjust to the idea that I HAVE to run 4 times a week before I am also adjusting to a new life schedule. Spreading out the new responsibilities seems like a good plan. So now is the time. 

I want to document my training here in blogland more than I did with the Great Wall Half. I think writing down my progress/feelings/mini-triumphs and setbacks will be self-motivating. Because basically I never really thought I could do a marathon. Marathons are what my parents did while I ate bagels and cream cheese from Dunkin Donuts on the sidelines. (mmmm bagels...........America....). 

After the awesomness that was the Great Wall experience, I know that I have to set out for another challenge. I want that training/climactic experience again. It's addicting, I tell ya. Even if you don't think you can do something, chances are you can, so that is my reasoning for choosing to do a marathon. Why not? 

So how am I feeling 4 days into my 5 month journey? 

post-run/Body Pump moodiness.

I am quickly realizing that I need to find some outside routes and times that are conducive to running in the Ch.ina public. I am not happy to be reunited with my old lover - the treadmill. I trained exclusively on the dreadmill for the GW race, and now I am finding a lack of motivation to hang out with her again. My runs need a change if I'm going to make it through these next months. I have some ideas for runs, and hopefully I get the gumption to try some out in the very near future. Is it normal to pray for gumption? Because I do.

Besides feeling animosity towards a running aparatus and kinda chubtastic thanks to my diet of 99% carbs (joking - more like 80% ;) ), I am super excited to begin this experience. It's all been very calculated. I want to run 26 (.2!) miles when I am 26 years old, and I want my first marathon to be with my family. Thankfully, the Disney race is scheduled during the New Year break and my family was already planning to run it- everything worked out with timing. PTL.

I can't believe it's time to train. It's really here! I'm training for a marathon! weeeeeeeeeeee yay. I actually signed up for this marathon before the GW race. I knew that I would have a let-down of sorts after the training/race experience was over and wanted to have something in the back of my mind to look forward to. It worked.

I am also praying for gumption to join the running group in town. I am usually a solo exerciser (except for weight lifting classes) because I like to be in my head and get very self-conscious around other "more athletic" people. But it is going to be a very lonely 5 months if I don't get the nerve to turn my slogging/waddling/running into a team sport. Gumption.

Thankfully, I am greeted at the door by my cheerleader who doesn't complain about the smelly running clothes laundry in the corner...

It's gonna be a long ride, Mushu. 

Almost one week down. 24 to go. Let the marathon training games begin. 

PS- I hope my experience inspires you to tackle a physical goal also. Walk/run a local race. Join a gym. Do a yoga class. Track your calories. Drink more water. Eat more fruit and veggies. Forget the meat. Take your vitamins. Go for a nightly walk. Buy a cat. ;) Small health changes make big health results. All you need is gumption. 

And if you have any advice for me, send it my way. Goodness knows I need it. ;)

walk slow. xoxo. 

you say typhoon, I say hurricane.

It's windy out there! 

Our little city is getting pounded by a "typhoon" as I type this. I'm thinking tomorrow I might go stock up on bottled water and non-perishables - my first natural disaster related preparation since I moved here 4 years ago. I'm also thankful I live on the fourth floor out of four floors - buildings in Ch.ina tend to not withstand the elements very well due to quick construction and standards oversights. I think all's good in my hood. No worries. 

Other than the "typhoon" as they call hurricanes on this side of the world, I've been getting along with life just dandy. 

Yesterday I recieved a monster package from home! I am calling it my "birthday package" even though I know my mom would have sent it regardless of the timing. Inside was plastic bag after plastic bag of wonders from home: peppermint tea, chia seeds, cat treats, disposable razors, flip-flops, bras the correct size, dried fruit, and other first world luxuries I think I need. ;) Mushu and I were verryyyyy happy campers yesterday! Thanks, mom! 

he claimed it before I could open it, ha.

new toys! = crazy kitty! 
Things have been going normally with work and class. The hospital is still one of the highlights of my week. My doctor lovies are awesome. Yesterday's class was all discussion based with slips of paper asking them questions like, "What is one thing you would never change about yourself?" and "Are the Olympics worth the money it costs the home country?" I love these kinds of more laid back classes that give me a break from constant teaching and give them a chance to speak their minds! Win-win for everyone. Good times.

English chit-chat. Music to my ears. 

The view from the 15th floor of the hospital...

love HZ.

Ch.inese class is also going well. I am so, so happy that I decided to finally bite the bullet and hire a teacher. I think timing was everything with finding this chick. I am so glad it all aligned so that we could work together. I find myself critiquing her teaching (in a good way). Today at one point I made a connection between our reading for the day and some previous questions she had asked me. "You are a good teacher!" I exclaimed. I feel like as a language teacher for several years, my standards for private tutoring are high and I have hit the jackpot with this girl. (Can you tell I'm happy about my classes? haha). If anyone needs a tutor in HZ let me know. I'll introduce you to the best one in town!

a satisfied customer. 

And because I like to spell it all out on the internet (and because in five years I want to laugh at myself)...I have been getting phone calls from Ethiopia.

Turns out that African misses me as much as I miss him. Dang.

My girls and I got together last night for wine, contemplation, and solicited advice. And let me tell you, I have some smart, wonderful, intuitive friends.

Relationships are scary, tricky things sometimes. Throw in distance, a rocky previous break up, and living on different continents and we have a recipe for something in the movies. But this is not the movies, this is real life.

I want to be a mature, wise woman who makes good choices that sometimes involve sacrifice of current happiness. I also want to be vulnerable, accessible, and open to miracles. I want to be hopeful, not naive.

I want to believe that there is someone "better" for me and more in tune with my "plan." I also want to steer clear of youth-group lingo that puts situations in a box. I know that who someone is at 24 is not who they are going to be forever - these are formative years, but not every decision someone makes now is permanent. Our lives ebb and flow. We grow and change. Do I judge someone based on their current state? Or believe that all people deserve patience as they grow, including myself?

This, little blog, is the mini-typhoon in my head.

I really hope that in a few years I can look back on these thoughts and think,"Oh silly girl, it all worked out greater than you ever dreamed."

Because it always does.

I hope there aren't any typhoons in your hood! ;)

walk slow. xoxo.